This week we achieved a level of order and harmony in the kitchen ne’er before conceived much less realized. We also continued unpacking 2007 boxes in the basement. Each 3-hour project has brought a greater feeling of being settled in the home we’ve occupied for five years. At the same time, touching again the physical items related to a 2007 life-trauma stir up painful memories and uncomfortable new action-items-for-consideration.Bonus +1 Day of 43: Time-Bomb Trauma Trigger Found & Defused (2 hours + 4 hours)
Problem: Beginning the work of unpacking highly sensitive contents-in-storage from a devastating life chapter is difficult. Much like preparing for the physical pain of surgery, I began the 2007 Boxes project with a sense of trepidation and walking-on-eggshells. That said…
Action: The work we had started on January 23 left me feeling with the confidence that “I can do this.” On Saturday, January 25, I decided to work for a couple of hours on my own.I knew I would be coming across some contents that would hold more emotional stress than others, and this happened unexpectedly during my solo session. When I found the hot-and-bothering contents I froze for a few moments as I processed the collection. Not wanting this find to stall my un-packing progress during my solo session time (2 hours), I re-packed the small collection in a bag for future emotional processing, which I did later-that-day (2 hours) and then wrote a post about it, “Time-Bomb Trauma Trigger Defused.” (2 hours)
New Reality: Hitting the sweet-and-sore-spot of this project for the first time was hard. Being able to contain the triggering contents during the session helped me to save-the-hard-stuff-for-later, and I was able to continue to un-pack lighter-weight items such as candles, umbrellas, and old software manuals to finish the session. Learning this lesson early in the project, I will now be able to re-use this approach as I run into more items that hold emotional triggers from the past. Day 4 of 43: Spices Transformed (3 hours)
Problem: Our spices were thrown together when we moved-in together in 2009 without a care to cull or organize them in any functional way other than a small set of six above the stove (our most used). Adding the remains of my family-home kitchen spice rack (recently purged and updated with brand-new spices since I lived and cooked there for six months in 2013) to this already full collection was at first mind-boggling.
Action: We emptied a cabinet that had stored spices unused since 2009. We dumped most of these into the kitchen compost bin and recycled the glass containers; this action resulted in open cabinet space. We made an inventory of the counter and stove-top spice racks and new spices recently moved from New York, we combined same-kind spices for space saving, and we grouped the spices by brand.
New Reality: The smaller, updated spice collection now sits on kitchen counter spice-racks near the stovetop. Our six most-used spices remain on the stovetop, with the salt and pepper. Grouping the spices by brand brings a harmonious visual order to the collection. We will continue to reduce the collection as we use-up duplicates. The spices-in-order brings a visual and functional harmony we will enjoy and be able to maintain more easily in the future. Read “Restoring the Spice of Life” for more on this project. Day 5 of 43: Pantry Transformed (3 hours)
Problem: The pantry was pure disaster for the last five years, yet it somehow managed to serve our basic needs for cleaning, laundry, and dog supplies, flower vases, and dry food storage. Adding items from my family home pushed the critical need to sort and better contain the pantry items per category.
Action: Pantry items were swept-through and items not belonging to the meta-categories cleaning/laundry/dog supplies, flower vases, or dry foods were removed. This helped to create space for grouping like items together, such as these vases in the photo.
New Reality: The pantry is picture-perfect now, with like items on the same shelf with their “family.” It’s a lot easier to find the things we need. Day 6 of 43: 2007 Boxes Unpacked, Sorted & Meta-Categories Labeled (3 hours)
Problem: Boxes from a sudden move in 2007 have been stored unopened in the basement since we moved them there in 2009. The boxes are taking up space in the basement (and unconscious psychic space) we could be using for other purposes. These boxes represent a life trauma (my life-interrupted and disintegrated in 2007) that was not ready to be un-packed until now (seven years later).
Action: We moved several boxes from a 6’x 6′ x 6′ block, unpacked the tornado-hit-my-life contents, and meta-sorted the contents into clearly-labeled categories.
New Reality: An item found in the unpacking of 2007 boxes was an un-cashed check from that time. The un-cashed check reflects my personal life-coming-undone and life-interrupted as I attended more and more to the unpredictable crisis after crisis that caring for my mom with FTD created. Items like this create open and uncomfortable followup questions, such as, “Do I call the insurance firm and inquire about a re-issue of the check (would they re-issue a check after seven years?), or do I let this go into paper recycling?”
Moving forward with a listening heart,
vision, inquiry, and action,
This post is part of the series: Transforming Trauma, Becoming Whole.
Please read “40+ Days of Desert Practice” for the series description and background.